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The Changing Landscape of CES, Away from Traditional Companies and Towards Smaller Innovators

CESCES 2013 officially wrapped up last week, but the innovation and buzz from products seen on CES’s show floor is set to spur the next wave of technological innovation in the months to come.

From Panasonic’s 4K 20-inch tablet to the Tobii REX sensor, allowing users to control their laptop using their eyes, to the even smaller Pebble Smart Watch, CES seemed to cover every range of technology and gadgetry possible.  But, while CES showcased how far technology has progressed, the paradigm of CES has also shifted as well.

In its 45-year history, CES 2013 was reportedly the biggest expo so far in terms of exhibition space. Last year boasted 1.86 million square feet of exhibition space, yet this year grew to 1.92 million square feet. Over 3,250 exhibitors showcased 20,000 new products to 150,000 attendees at the Las Vegas Convention Center for 4 full days.

But, unlike previous years, CES is becoming less important to traditional electronics companies.  One difference this year lies in the shift from CES’ focus on major announcements made by mega-corporations to announcements and displays from smaller companies and startups that exude exciting innovation.

Microsoft’s absence from CES this year leaves a hole that allows for the future of CES to be dominated by growth companies. Kick-started and crowd-sourced products such as the Pebble Smart Watch grabbed the attention of attendees and stole the show.

There were smaller booths this year on the show floor. Corporations such as Samsung and Nokia have delayed unveiling their new products at CES to other carefully timed events to ensure that their announcements aren’t looked over in the midst of so many companies.

Additionally, the departure of old-school companies also made room for emerging companies in growing technological categories at CES like automotive, fitness, and digital healthcare. Eight of the ten largest automakers were present at CES and most focused on connectivity and mobile innovation in their cars. Sport and digital healthcare products sold the idea that technology is the key to mental and physical well being. The connecting thread to these products is wireless technology as it uses smartphones and tablets to collect data about the body.

The convergence of these different technologies is the future of consumer electronics and of CES. While CES used to be a show highlighting products released from mega-corporations, it has grown into a different space of innovation and growth. But it still stays true to its intentions: showing us a glimpse of what the future looks like.

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